September 5, 2015

EUROPE IN CRISIS: Hungary Passes Draconian “Emergency” Immigration Laws.

Using the immigration crisis as a pretext, Hungary’s ruling party has passed a series of “emergency” laws that trample on several basic liberal values—and, probably not coincidentally, may not affect only immigrants. . . .

The immigrant crisis is of course real, and it’s legitimate for nations to reassert control over their borders. But history shows us that unscrupulous actors will gladly use legitimate crises to seize extraordinary powers.
As several Hungary-watchers have told us, this move by Orban’s Fidesz serves two purposes. First, it takes the issue away from the far-right Jobbik party, which has been surging in opinion polls. Second, it provides a handy cudgel with which to bludgeon its opponents on the left. Many opposition parties in Hungary have committed to helping migrants through grassroots efforts—as part of one such effort, the country’s former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has been taking in migrant families for one or two nights in his home. Early reads of the bills indicate that this kind of program may now be in trouble.

One of the reasons we have so consistently decried the failure of the elites in regard to immigration is that it opens the door to illiberal politicians. Recently in the West, this has manifested itself as bluster—think Donald Trump’s calls for undoing the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provisions, or any number of rants from the leaders of euroskeptic parties—like France’s Front National—that are out of power but popular in the polls.

We’ll have to see how far, and to what ends, Fidesz wants to push its newly-acquired powers. But a new, uglier phase in European politics could be upon us.

I’m afraid so.

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